Hey kids, let’s talk about DEPRESSION. Gather round, get comfortable, and I’ll tell you a story.
I wish I’d grown up in a world where kid shows covered things like that. Where we got taught when we’re young how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, how to work through it, and how to be good to ourselves while we do it. I’ve realized in the last few days that I’d been depressed for a few weeks now, and have been thinking about how to get out of the place I’m in.
There’s a difference between being depressed because you have bad things going on in your life, which sucks, and can describe most of my 2012 …. and being depressed even though you have good things going on in your life. That’s the tougher one, because while people understand why you’re feeling down when the power’s shut off and your spouse leaves town without you, they’re less understanding when you have a job, and friends, and love, and all the things we generally consider to be signs of winning at life.
I am, in general, winning at life: I have an apartment I like that I can, at least for now, afford; my son is doing well in school; I am loved, and while the details of which are still not up for discussion, it’s going in the right direction. I’ve made new friends recently, including someone who makes me laugh even when he’s being (purposely) obnoxious, and who encourages me to draw … and I’ve gotten back into art and comics, including scoring a column where I get to write about indie comics and share the things I love with other people. I feel like, in that sense, I’ve reclaimed a part of myself that had been on hold for a while, and it feels good.
So, what’s wrong?
Well, notice what got left out of that list. Dagan Books. My own writing. I noticed how little energy I had for work after I had recovered from the flu enough to be able to work, but didn’t actually have the drive to get anything done. I have about 6 hours a days that I can, and should, be spending on editing and promoting for Dagan Books, and writing my own fiction and non-fiction, and in the last week I’ve done … nothing. I was tired, I thought. I was still recovering from being sick (I do have a little cough still, so that’s not completely an excuse), I told myself. People told me to rest more and I’d feel better soon. So I read. I rested. I watched tv.
And I didn’t feel better.
I knew I had things to do and I didn’t care.
I started to think about it and realized this was the same way I’d felt a few months ago, just before Cthulhurotica got noticed by the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, and I had to put aside my thoughts and deal with the deadlines in front of me. That worked for a while, but eventually the fuss died down, the sales slowed, and the bad feelings came back. I needed to figure out what was wrong, and how to fix it.
The problem with my writing is that I haven’t done any in months. I’ve been so focused on building DB, trying to make it into a profitable day job, because shouldn’t I? that I haven’t been doing the thing that makes me feel like I’m not a waste of space. Writing is the art I spent time on (I love drawing and printmaking and painting and all of that, but for reasons we won’t discuss here I didn’t pursue it, and so I don’t have the 20 years of practice I have with writing). Writing is the thing I think I’m good at. Writing helps me to connect with people and makes me feel like I accomplished something.
And I haven’t been doing it.
And I haven’t been doing it because I was focusing on all of the little things it takes to run a company, and the disappointments that go with it (poor book sales on one title ate up the good book sales from another title, and buying expensive ad space didn’t help) and the angry, stupid, awful people that occasionally go with it. I’ve had enough of people accusing me of not working hard enough, wanting to know whey I rejected a story and then arguing with me, telling me to go fuck myself because I didn’t buy their work, and suggesting that I could be doing better if only I did things their way.
I hate that before every con I go to I have to have a conversation with my partner about which publishing ”professional” has been making uncomfortably suggestive comments about my breasts so he can stand between us at the bar.
And, more than anything else, I hate that I’m behind on deadlines I set for myself, that I can’t afford to make books the way I want to, that I haven’t pursued publishing non-fiction like I’d always planned, and that I’ve accepted work/stories/projects I don’t love in an effort to grow my business faster.
Basically, I disappointed myself. Solution? Stop doing those things.
I admit that I thought about quitting all together – just getting out of publishing and going back to writing for myself all of the time – but I have never been a quitter. More than my desire to see this through to the end is the fact that I genuinely love publishing books, and have put out/am putting out some gorgeous work I’m glad to have my name attached to. What I need to do is stop forcing myself to work on someone else’s schedule, stop taking it so personally that I get accused of not being a “good friend” anymore because I only want to publish quality work (in other words, because I don’t want to publish theirs). I need to stop putting out filler projects that I think will get me noticed by this person or that will sell well in that market.
I need to make the books I want, in the way that I want. Period.
Yes, this will mean that I put out less, even though I’m working harder. It will mean sales increase more slowly, and it will take me longer to turn DB into a decent day job. I may have to get a job working for someone else in the meantime, to pay the bills. I’m okay with that. Because in the end I’ll be making beautiful books, I’ll be known for the quality of my work, and people who like my taste can rest assured that I’m giving them something they’ll at least like, if not love. I’d rather build my company that way.
I have to make some decisions about what I’m doing with this year’s books, and I have to get back on track with getting them out. I have writing deadlines too, and that has to happen. I think this is the first step, to say how I feel, to figure out what’s been wrong, and to make a plan for the future. I certainly feel better getting this out there. I know now that if I can take the next step forward, if I can just sit down and write something, get some fucking work done, then I’ll be moving forward again. I’ll get my momentum back.